A Visit to Michael Franti’s Soulshine Retreat Center

I’m terrible with names. It comes naturally. So when J.J. mentioned that there was an open house at Michael Franti’s Soulshine Retreat Center, just outside of Ubud I did one of those, “UmmHmm,” comments that translated means, “I think I should know who you’re talking about but I don’t have a clue.” She wasn’t fooled. “You know, the singer?” she was trying to help. “Ahhh, maybe?” The thing is, I know SONGS. I don’t know SINGERS. Anyway, it sounded like a nice outing for the morning so we set out on foot. Well, it may be five minutes from Ubud by car, but it was a full hour hoofing it. First we had the rippling sidewalks of Ubud proper. Those turned into narrow dirt paths by the side of narrow roads with traffic whizzing by. And then even the narrow paths disappeared. Mix that with blazing sun beating down and you have a perfect recipe for heatstroke! When we saw the Soulshine landmark, five yellow flags by the side of the road, we hoped we weren’t hallucinating. Turning right off the street we were immediately drenched in Bali beauty.

We followed the path along this lovely little stream and it turned into a rushing torrent splashing through holes in volcanic rock formations.

Then it became a waterfall.

Finally we reached the Center itself, an oasis of serenity.

We were greeted by smiling, friendly staff who told us they knew nothing about an open house. There was a retreat in progress and they were so sorry…. Well, J.J. wasn’t about to roll over and play dead. “It says in the Bali Spirit guide that during the Festival the Soulshine Retreat Center will have open house 11 – 4 every day.” The smiling staff looked confused. One of the young men asked us to “Please wait,” and he disappeared. After only a few minutes a woman appeared at the top of a long stairway and motioned us to ascend. We did. The woman was Carla Swanson, co-founder and Michael Franti’s partner. She personally took us on a tour of the center. The photo below is the third floor yoga studio with gleaming wood floors and a panoramic view of the surrounding rice paddies and jungle.

The accommodations are sublime, and the carrot juice drink we were served, compliments of Carla, was unparalleled. My photos do not do justice to the tranquil beauty, the exquisite detail of the architecture itself, and the serene aesthetic that permeates the environment.

This is a view of the grounds from an area by the pool and restaurant. It is luscious. Everywhere you look is a feast for the eyes. We rested, soaking in the restorative energy, sipping our cool drinks, imagining hosting workshops here. It is the stuff of future dreams that have a way of manifesting if you see them clearly enough.

Our tour completed, J.J. and I parted ways. About half -way back to Ubud the sky was threatening to dump its afternoon deluge so I sought cover at the Nuriani Cafe. It was a splendid choice. After a refreshing glass of watermelon juice I feasted on this plate of Ayam Pedas Sambal Matah, which loosely translated means grilled chicken, vegetables and rice. The prawn chips are crisp and delicious but you have to eat them immediately. If they have a chance to sit even briefly they soak up the humid air and become like fishy tasting leather.

I lingered here, enjoying every morsel and resting my eyes on the green of the paddies from my elevated perch. This particular view has special memories. The buildings just across the field belong to Tegal Sari where my daughter and I stayed two years ago. Then the rain came and lasted once again for about 4  1/2 minutes.


Thoroughly satisfied, happy and hot, I trekked the rest of the way back to my room with single minded focus: TAKE A SHOWER. Now, sitting on my balcony refreshed and revived I am convinced it doesn’t get better than this.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Diane Struble
    Mar 31, 2012 @ 17:54:31

    Love all of your descriptions. I am definitely getting the feeling that like many tropical paradises, it does get hot in Bali. I must admit I never noticed it in Hawaii.



  2. jessa
    Apr 01, 2012 @ 11:44:26

    wow!! michael franti’s retreat center! i had no idea! how fun!! now you’ll have to listen to some of his music! it should be on your/my itunes! 🙂



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